GIVING BACK Jeff Collins and his daughter Maisie hold a cheque for $12,000, donated to the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation for palliative care at the Lloydminster Hospital, where his late wife Nicole comfortably spent her final days before she died from brain cancer on May 17, 2016. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO
She was loved in life and during her final days in the Palliative Care Unit of Lloydminster Hospital.
That memory of the care her daughter Nicole Collins received at the unit before she succumbed to brain cancer on May 17, 2016 at age 35 brings comfort to Sheila Geddes.
Geddes joined Nicole’s husband Jeff, his mom Barb Collins, and his nine-year-old daughter Maisie, Nicole’s two sisters Jill Vany and Melissa Nasby and their kids, and Nicole’s dad Don Blanchette to present a cheque for $12,000 to the Palliative Care Unit on Aug. 29.
“To be giving back here in Lloyd where she grew up, that means a lot,” said Geddes, who noted Nicole was happy to be at the unit for her last months.
She noted Nicole was always surrounded by friends and family members during her one-month-and-a-day stay at the unit.
“Even when she couldn’t speak she would blink her eyes, and she knew that we were all there —she was loved, very loved.”
What she remembers about her daughter was her sense of humour.
“She loved family, she loved her husband Jeff, her daughter Maisie, and she loved to have a good time,” said Geddes, who drove from Edmonton to attend the cheque presentation.
Geddes also said Nicole was extremely appreciative of everything the nurses did to bring her comfort and she was thrilled to be able to help her family give back.
Another $6,000 is going to the Canadian Cancer Society for brain cancer research from the $18,000 raised from the first annual Nicole Collins Memorial Golf Tournament & Silent Auction.
“The whole family and friends were just amazed that we actually raised that much,” said Jeff who organized the tournament held at Silver Lake Regional Park on July 29.
The fundraising tournament will become an annual way to have some fun and celebrate the memory of his wife with family and friends.
Jeff says the campground and golf course at Silver Lake near Maidstone was his wife’s favourite place to retreat, making the fundraising outcome of the tournament that much sweeter.
“We just both liked going there,” he said.
“I would park my trailer out there all year; we’ve been doing that for quite a few years.
“We both liked to golf out there, so it just made sense for both of us to be there.”
It was Nicole’s Little Piece of Heaven as the wording on a keepsake wood carving of a bear made by a friend for Jeff attests.
Jeff is a business development manager for Vertex in Lloydminster and was excited to have raised so much money noting a lot of support came from oilfield companies, and agricultural companies from all around the region.
The cheque was presented to Lloydminster Region Health Foundation development officer Malcolm Radke, who called the amount the family raised fantastic.
“I was totally blown away by their ability, by the spirit of it, and all the people who came out and by the quality and quantity of the silent auction items and just how generous everyone was,” said Radke.
“They’ve earmarked this donation for the palliative care unit which is where Nicole spent some time.’
He noted some previous donors paid it back by donating to palliative care and Jeff and his family are doing the same thing.
“They had as positive an experience as possible while they were here,” said Radke.
“Their money will go towards continuing that tradition and making sure future families are taken care of.
The Palliative Care Unit at the Hospital underwent a $100,000 facelift and expansion in 2014 thanks to the support of donors and collaboration with Prairie North Health Region.
Nicole was diagnosed with brain cancer in the fall of 2013 and underwent an operation shortly after that and started radiation treatment that December.
Jeff said she was on chemotherapy for two years but her condition began to change by late 2015 early 2016.
“Then it got bad really quick from the end of January to April when she got admitted here,” said Jeff outside the hospital.
Most of her care took place in Lloydminster but when Nicole had to go for treatments at the Cross Cancer she and Jeff would often stay with Geddes in Edmonton.